Meet your local hero finalists

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Meet your local hero finalists

Read about your Westfield Local Hero finalists

Westfield Local Heroes is a community recognition and grants program, connecting and enriching local communities.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the outcome of the public vote determining the three successful 2019 nominees for Westfield Geelong. Each of the affiliated organisations for the successful three heroes will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work to thrive. In total, Westfield will be awarding 120 grants across Australia and New Zealand – totalling $1.2 million.

Your Westfield Local Heroes will be announced here on 1 October

Your six finalists for Westfield Geelong are:

Bec Picone

Peace of Mind Foundation
Driven . Dedicated . Unstoppable

Rebecca Picone is always on call to support people with brain cancer. The busy single mum created the Peace of Mind Foundation to support others after her sister-in-law died from the disease. The foundation runs a support group, annual retreats and provides financial and in-home support to patients. Bec is available 24/7 to offer support and has raised $682,000 through fundraising and grants. “I founded Peace of Mind in order to provide much needed and difficult-to-find support and care for patients and families fighting brain cancer,” says Bec.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Bec is successful, the Peace of Mind Foundation will use the grant to fund the annual running costs of its Geelong Brain Tumour Support Group and to host a regional forum.


Libby Gibson

HeartKids
Generous . Kind . Caring

When nurse Libby Gibson was asked to help HeartKids, she took up the challenge and ran with it. The request was simply to host monthly gatherings for families of children with congenital heart disease (CHD). But Libby’s enthusiasm grew and she took it upon herself to get involved in fundraising and organised regular events at local hospitals. The passionate volunteer is now the Geelong branch coordinator for the national charity. “Over the past 11 years I have raised almost $100,000. I have been able to help numerous families and have made lifelong friends,” says Libby.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Libby is successful, Heartfelt Kids will use the funds to help local families with travel, accommodation and meal expenses while their children are in hospital and organise some more family fun days.


Michael Nolan

Lazarus Community Centre
Committed . Generous . Humble

Michael Nolan is passionate about providing support for homeless people. The former priest worked tirelessly to establish the Lazarus Community Centre 18 months ago, to provide a safe and welcoming place for the most vulnerable and needy in Geelong. It’s a place where those living rough can get a daily meal, shower, clean their clothes and watch TV or play pool. “Based on our first year of operation, this service has assisted well over 2,000 people to better cope with daily living. Over 4,500 meals have been provided,” says Michael.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Michael is successful, Lazarus Communicate will use the funds for its daily food supply, a free-standing toilet block and building maintenance.


Rachel Parker

Ocean Mind
Courageous . Unassuming . Altruistic

When Rachel Parker discovered surfing, she finally found the perfect coping strategy for her mental illness. Eager to share her discovery, the experienced youth worker founded the charity Ocean Mind, which teaches surfing to children and teenagers with mental health issues, disability or social isolation. Over six weeks, surf instructors work one-on-one with the young surfers to build their confidence, self-efficiency and resilience. “I discovered surfing in 2015 and found my saving grace. I knew it could change the lives of many of the young people experiencing challenges,” says Rachel.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Rachel is successful, Ocean Mind use the funds to pay the instructors’ wages and expand into more communities.


Sarah Tuohey

Angel Gowns for Australian Angel Babies
Committed . Enthusiastic . Thoughtful

Sarah Tuohey is doing what she can to support parents who have lost their babies and need to plan a funeral.The mother of three is a volunteer with Angel Gowns for Australian Angel Babies, which transforms wedding dresses into gowns for babies who have passed away up to the age of 18 months. Angel Packs containing a gown or wrap, blanket, nappy, beanie, booties and a keepsake are provided to hospitals, funeral homes and direct to distressed parents who find it difficult to find an outfit for their angel baby.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Sarah is successful, Angel Gowns for Australian Angel Babies will put the funds towards supplies, postage and brochures for prospective volunteers and hospitals.


Tessa Davis

Anam Cara House
Compassionate . Caring . Giving

Tessa Davis is known for her big heart when it comes to people with life-limiting illnesses and runs the day hospice program at Anam Cara House. The service gives carers a well-earned break for a few hours while Tessa and trained volunteers keep a caring eye on their loved ones, who are treated as guests and encouraged to engage socially with other people in a similar situation. Tessa is on standby in case of a medical need and the hospice aims to have one volunteer to each guest so that the care is individualised.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Tessa is successful, Anam Cara House will set up a satellite service in a disadvantaged suburb.


Recognising all our 2019 nominees

View all of the nominees and their organisation

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